Title 42
State Affairs and Government

Chapter 82
Farmland Preservation Act

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-82-5

§ 42-82-5. Duties of the commission.

(a) The commission shall:

(1) Develop the criteria necessary for defining agricultural land under this chapter;

(2) Make a reasonably accurate inventory of all land in the state that meets the definition of agricultural land;

(3) Prepare and adopt rules for administration of the purchase of development rights and criteria for the selection of parcels for which the development rights may be purchased, and the conditions under which they will be purchased;

(4) Draw up and publish the covenant and enumerate the specific development rights to be purchased by the state;

(5) Inform the owners, public officials, and other citizens and interested persons of the provisions of this chapter;

(6) Approve and submit, within ninety (90) days after the end of each fiscal year, an annual report to the governor, the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the secretary of state of its activities during that fiscal year. The report shall provide: an operating statement summarizing meetings or hearings held, including meeting minutes, subjects addressed, decisions rendered, petitions granted, rules or regulations promulgated, studies conducted, policies and plans developed, approved, or modified, and programs administered or initiated; a consolidated financial statement of all funds received and expended, including the source of the funds, a listing of any staff supported by these funds, and a summary of any clerical, administrative, or technical support received; a summary of performance during the previous fiscal year, including accomplishments, shortcomings, and remedies; a synopsis of hearings, examinations, and investigations or any legal matters related to the authority of the commission; a summary of any training courses held pursuant to subdivision (a)(7); a summary of land acquired and conserved during the fiscal year; an annually updated inventory of all land in the state that meets the definition of agricultural land; a briefing on anticipated activities in the upcoming fiscal year; findings and recommendation for improvements. The report shall be posted electronically, as prescribed in § 42-20-8.2. The director of the department of administration shall be responsible for the enforcement of this provision; and

(7) Conduct a training course for newly appointed and qualified members and new designees of ex officio members within six (6) months of their qualification or designation. The course shall be developed by the chair, approved by the commission, and conducted by the commission. The commission may approve the use of any commission or staff members or other individuals to assist with training. The course shall include instruction in the following areas: the provisions of chapters 82 and 46 of this title, chapter 14 of title 36, and chapter 2 of title 38; and the commission’s rules and regulations. The director of the department of administration shall, within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act [May 3, 2006], prepare and disseminate training materials relating to the provisions of chapter 46 of this title, chapter 14 of title 36, and chapter 2 of title 38.

(b) At any time after fulfilling the requirements of subsection (a), the commission, on behalf of the state, may acquire any development rights that may, from time to time, be offered by the owners of agricultural land. The commission may accept or negotiate at a price not in excess of the value established by an independent appraisal prepared for the commission, or for one of the commission’s partners, for the respective property. Additionally, said appraisal shall be reviewed in a manner consistent with the rules and regulations of the commission. The value of the development rights for all of the purposes of this section shall be the difference between the value of the property for its highest and best use and its value for agricultural purposes as defined in this chapter. In determining the value of the property for its highest and best use, consideration shall be given to sales of comparable properties in the general area, use of which is unrestricted at the time of sale. The seller of the development rights shall have the option of accepting payment in full at the time of transfer or accepting payment on an installment basis in cash or with the principal paid by tax exempt financial instruments of the state with interest on the unpaid balance equal to the interest paid by the state on bonds sold during the preceding twelve-month (12) period. Any matter pending in the superior court may be settled by the parties subject to approval by a referee. At any time after a matter has been referred to a referee, even after an award is made by the referee, but before payment thereof, the petitioner may withdraw his or her petition upon payment of appraisal fees incurred by the state, together with all court costs, and the award shall become null and void.

(c) Any land acquired by purchase, devise, or as a gift may be resold by the commission with the development rights retained by the state and so noted by covenant in the deed. Any such resale by the commission shall not be subject to the right to purchase by the municipality in which the land is situated as provided by § 37-7-5. The proceeds from that sale shall be returned to the agricultural land preservation fund.

(d) Any land received as a gift and not resold by the commission may be leased for agricultural uses or other uses the commission determines are not detrimental to its agricultural productivity. Any funds thus obtained shall be returned to the agricultural land preservation fund.

(e) The commission may consider petitions by the owner of land, from which or whom the state has purchased the development rights, to repurchase those development rights from the state. The petition must be accompanied by a certificate from the municipalities in which the land lies stating that two-thirds (⅔) of the city or town council has approved the proposed development. The petition shall set forth the facts and circumstances upon which the commission shall consider approval, and the commission shall deny approval unless at least seven (7) of its members determine by vote that there is an overriding necessity to relinquish control of the development rights. The commission shall hold at least one public hearing in a city or town from which a certificate has been received, prior to its consideration of the petition, that shall be announced in one newspaper of local circulation. The expenses, if any, of the hearing shall be borne by the petitioner. If the commission approves the sale of the development rights, it shall receive the value of the development rights at the time of this sale, to be determined in the same manner as provided for by subsection (d). Proceeds of the sale shall be returned to the agricultural land preservation fund.

History of Section.
P.L. 1981, ch. 299, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 22, § 5; P.L. 2006, ch. 27, § 5; P.L. 2008, ch. 25, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 30, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 445, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 446, § 1.